Civil Appeal No. 5576 of 2021
Date of judgement:
07 September 2021
Justice B.R. Gavai
Appellants – KayalullaParambathMoiduHaji
Respondent – Namboodiyil Vinodan
While considering a simpliciter injunction, if there is a complicated question of fact or law regarding the suit property, the parties will be directed to apply for remedy regarding the title of the suit property.
Section 37(2) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 - A perpetual injunction can only be granted by the decree made at the hearing and upon the merits of the suit; the defendant is thereby perpetually enjoined from the assertion of a right, or from the commission of an act, which would be contrary to the rights of the plaintiff.
- The Appellant herein claimed to be the lawful owner of the suit property. He also claimed that there are definitive boundaries between his property and the Respondent’s property and this property cannot be claimed by the Respondent.
- The Appellant stated that he lives 1.5 kms from the suit property. It was brought to his knowledge that the Respondent and five others were cutting and trying to remove the jackfruit tree from his property worth Rs. 60,000. The Appellant rushed to the spot and stopped the incident from continuing further. The Appellant then filed a suit praying an injunction be passed to restrain the Respondent and his men from trespassing on his property.
- In the written statement filed by the Respondent, it was contended that the description of the suit property in the plaint and the description shown to the Advocate Commissioner was different. Further, it was provided that the property to the extent of 52½ cents belonging to the respondent. It was also contended that the suit property never belonged to Kalariyullathil Paru, the person from whom the Appellant claims to have bequeathed the suit property via assignment, and hence could not have been transferred to the Appellant. It is further contended that the suit property was never owned by the appellant or his predecessors.
- After considering evidence from both sides, the Trial Court decreed the suit in favour of the appellant. Aggrieved by the decree, the Respondent preferred an appeal before the Additional District and Session Judge, Vadakara. The appellate court dismissed the appeal. It was again appealed to the High Court, wherein the Court remanded the suit to the Trial Court to decide the case afresh. A review petition filed by the Respondent was dismissed by the High Court and it was appealed before this court.
- Both Counsels heavily relied on Anantlhula Sudhakar V. Buchi Reddy (2008) for supporting their stand on the maintainability of the original injunction suit in connection with title of the suit property.
- This Court placing reliance on the Ananthula Case, observed that in exceptional cases, when there are necessary documents showing clear title of the property, the court can decide the issue regarding the title of the property in an injunction suit. But the general rule is that the question of title will not be heard and decided in an injunction suit.
- The court, after perusing the facts of the current case, came to the conclusion that there is no evidence pointing towards clear title of property and there is a cloud over this issue causing ambiguity. There was a serious dispute regarding the same and this requires a deeper investigation of documentary and oral evidence.
- Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the appeal was dismissed.
- Whether the learned Single Judge of the High Court was right in holding that the suit simpliciter for permanent injunction, without claiming declaration of title, as filed by the plaintiff, was not maintainable?
- While deciding on the issue, this court relied on Anantlhula Sudhakar V. Buchi Reddy. Hence, it becomes pertinent to note the important directions given by the court.
- The Court in that case observed that “as a suit for injunction simpliciter is concerned only with possession, normally the issue of title will not be directly and substantially in issue. The prayer for injunction will be decided with reference to the finding on possession. But in cases where de jure possession has to be established on the basis of title to the property, as in the case of vacant sites, the issue of title may directly and substantially arise for consideration, as without a finding thereon, it will not be possible to decide the issue of possession”.
- Hence, it is clear that where there is a considerable dispute regarding the title over the suit property where a simpliciter injunction is filed, a separate suit regarding the property should be filed for seeking remedy.
- It was also noted that when pronouncing directions like this, precaution should be taken so that the aggrieved party filing an injunction suit is not unnecessarily left in the lurch by making him comply with vexatious claims by the other party to the suit.
The norm is to not decide on issues regarding the title of property in an injunction suit. This can be done if there are requisite pleadings and documents which allow for the smooth and straight forward approach to the problem. Hence, an exception is carved to this general norm.
In this particular case, there seems to be a complicated question of law and facts as the description regarding the property and the mode of source of inheritance is in question, which need to be adjudicated separately.
Questions to Analyse:
1. Should every dispute over title of property be filed as separate suit when there is a simpliciter injunction suit?
2. If possession of property is proved, is it necessary to prove the title of property as well?
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